09/28/2005 12:00AM

Lukas fondly recalls his early days in Texas

Email

Trainer Wayne Lukas said he plans to be at Retama Park on Saturday afternoon, when he will be inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He is one of four individuals who will enter the Hall, and following the ceremonies the richest card of the meet will be held, with six restricted stakes worth $470,000.

Josephine Abercrombie, Herbert Graham, and the sprinter Miss Princess will also be inducted, while a special industry service award will go to Jim Helzer.

Texas has served as something of a launching pad for Lukas, a former basketball coach who began his full-time pursuit of a training career when he moved to Texas in the 1960's. He had previously started a limited number of horses in South Dakota.

"My first serious thrust into horse racing came in Texas," said Lukas.

He raced all over the state, at such tracks as Goliad, Columbus, and Manor Downs. "I lived in Texas around six years," he said. "I stayed there all the way into 1971, when I moved to California."

During his time here, Lukas lived in Laredo, where he was based at a then-new training center now owned by the family of trainer Steve Asmussen, and later, in El Paso, when racing at Sunland and Ruidoso in New Mexico.

"Some of my dearest friends are Texans," said Lukas. "Some of the early influences in my career are people like Dr. Charlie Graham, Bubba Cascio, and Matlock Rose. Those people have always had a great influence on my career."

Lukas was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in 1999. He has won 13 Triple Crown races, 17 Breeders' Cup races, and trained three horses to Horse of the Year titles: Lady's Secret, Criminal Type, and Charismatic.

* The main event on the track Saturday night will be the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame, a 1 1/16-mile turf race that is expected to draw on a strong Texas-bred division of older horses, including Goosey Moose, Agrivating General, Rare Cure, Charming Socialite, and Northern Scene.